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How to make a video visit with your provider work for you

| Healthy You | Wellness

young mother with baby talk with a doctor via laptop

Preparation tips to make the most of your virtual "housecall."

As people practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, PeaceHealth is offering an alternative to in-person visits that can be done from the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Video visits with your PeaceHealth provider require:

  • a My PeaceHealth account.
  • a smartphone, tablet or computer (with webcam, microphone and speaker).
  • a reliable Internet or Wi-Fi connection.

“A video visit is a great way for people to access health care,” says Annie Neil, RN, BSN, PHN, an award-winning nurse with 37 years of experience in critical care, patient education and performance improvement. Her current role at PeaceHealth is administrative, but she provides coaching and education support for people with chronic medical conditions--the very individuals who need to be most careful about getting medical care while reducing their risk of exposure to illness.

“Virtual care doesn’t replace face-to-face appointments with your doctor, but phone and video visits can help you get quicker access to a provider who can evaluate your symptoms, provide reassurance, or tell you how to take further action,” she says.

Who can use the video visit option?

PeaceHealth patients who are experiencing minor illnesses or injuries can set up a video visit with their provider. “This type of online medical visit with a provider is helpful for routine follow-up visits about a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure,” says Annie.

“Also, a video visit is a good option if you have a new symptom after hospitalization or if you have a rash, possible eye infection, cold or flu-like symptoms or maybe need to ask a question about what to do if you’re around someone who has been sick.”

Video visits are not for emergencies; however, they provide a viable option when an office visit isn’t ideal.

How can I prepare for a video visit?

Prepare a list of questions ahead of time and be ready to provide your clinician with important information, Annie says.

Some of your health information may already be in your electronic health record, but it’s still a good idea to have a written record on your end.

Why? Every provider uses a record-keeping system to document the care they provide you. While most doctors use an electronic system, they might not all use the same system. That means they might not be able to see your records for care you received somewhere else. If you’re seeing a provider for the first time, he or she will need this information to make sure to give you the best possible care.

Here are a few notes to help your doctor help you:

  1. Give a clear description of your symptoms and what is bothering you.
  2. Have a thermometer in your home and take your temperature, so you know whether you have a fever. Be prepared to tell the provider what your temperature is currently, what it was when you had a fever last, and how long you have been experiencing fevers.
  3. If you can, provide other vital signs that may be important. For example, a recent blood pressure reading if you have hypertension or a blood sugar level if you have diabetes.
  4. Have a written list of your medications, including herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications. Also, include a list of medications you’re allergic to and the type of allergic response you have had to those medications in the past.
  5. Give a brief past medical history, especially as it relates to your present concern.
  6. Mention if you have been tested for COVID-19 or if anyone else in the household is ill.

“By the end of the visit, you want to make sure your questions related to the reason for your call were answered, and that you know what your next steps are,” Annie says. “Read back the recommendations made, so that it is clear you understand what the provider has advised to you during the call. Confirm that you know what to do if your symptoms get worse and who to call.”

It’s helpful to log into My PeaceHealth about 15 minutes ahead of the actual visit so you're ready for your clinician.

Before you make the call, pick a quiet space where you can focus on the visit without noise or other distractions. This will allow for privacy and the ability to focus on the interaction between you and your provider during the visit.

What do I need to know about video visits?

  • All PeaceHealth primary care physicians and many specialists are now available for video visits. Hours and appointment timeslots vary by provider. Call your clinic or use My PeaceHealth to request a video visit appointment.
  • If you need help using the necessary technology, PeaceHealth offers technical support services for video visits prior to and during your appointment. Call 833-984-2358. You can also ask someone in your household or at your medical clinic for help.
  • Billing for your visit is handled the same as for an in-person provider visit.

How can I get started with a video visit?

To schedule a video visit, log in or sign up at My PeaceHealth.

New to My PeaceHealth?

If you are new to My PeaceHealth, click the “sign up” button. visit My PeaceHealth and fill out the fields on the page.

  • If you have an activation code (from a prior visit at PeaceHealth) enter it.

  • If you don’t have a code, click the “sign up online” and follow the prompts. You will be asked a few questions to verify your identity.

Already have a My PeaceHealth account?

If you already have an active My PeaceHealth account, sign in to your My PeaceHealth account and follow these instructions to request a video visit:

  • Click “Schedule an appointment.”
  • Click “General Video Visit” for most types of visits – or “COVID-Related Concern Visit.”
  • Choose a time for your appointment.

No computer or smartphone?

Telephone visits are another alternative to in-person visits. You will need to set up an appointment with the clinic ahead of time. Other than a telephone, you just need a quiet place where you can hear and feel comfortable chatting with your clinician. Be sure your phone is charged and that you are situated where your phone has good reception.